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7 films not to miss at AFI FEST 2016

Brittany Martin

AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi features dozens and dozens of films, spanning all manner of genres, languages, countries of origin and era. The schedule runs the gamut from lovingly-restored classics from the silent film days to hotly-anticipated new films that are screening at the fest months before they hit mainstream multiplexes. Here are just a few of the screenings we think any movie maven would do well to check out—and since you can get screening passes for free, you might as well attend them all.

La La Land

Debuting to the public in December, this musical charmer stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as up-and-comers making their way through Hollywood and finding love along the way. It will screen as the centerpiece gala film of AFI FEST 2016.


This year’s AFI FEST highlights three female trailblazers from cinema history: Dorothy Dandridge, Ida Lupino and the star of the 1929 film Piccadilly, Anna May Wong. Wong was the first Chinese-American movie star of the Hollywood studios, and appears here in a breakout role as an ambitious young woman who makes her way from dishwasher to headlining act at a fancy nightclub.

 The Red Turtle

This co-production of beloved Studio Ghibli with the French-German film company Wild Bunch AG has been widely anticipated by adult animation lovers. The lovely animated story, which earned high regards at Cannes, follows a castaway and the large red turtle with whom he bonds as he tries to escape a remote island.

Rules Don’t Apply

Warren Beatty serves as writer, director, producer and star of this 1950’s Hollywood period piece, in which he plays Howard Hughes and the film follows the travails and entanglements of an aspiring actress and an ambitious chauffer who work for him.      

Dreaming of Baltimore

AFI Fest features a program of 39 short films from around the world, including Dreaming of Baltimore, a French short that focuses on young Akro, who just wants to ride his motocross bike and pop wheelies, until one night, the engine gives out.

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki

Based on the true story of 1962 world featherweight boxing contender Olli Mäki, this film will be Finland’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Oscars. It appears here as part of AFI FEST’s World Cinema Lineup program that highlights the most acclaimed international film work.


Academy Award winner Natalie Portman steps into the role of Jackie Kennedy for this intense psychological portrait of the widow in the days immediately following the assassination of JFK, struggling to come to terms with the tragedy while maintaining public poise.

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